I’d already played it out in my mind several times.
I knew (one always does) that our arrangement
was reaching its natural end.
I knew (still know) my reasons;
I didn’t (still don’t) know yours.
But it’s better to be the frog that leaps out,
suspecting instantly that the water is too hot,
than to be the frog that dies by degrees,
never noticing how slowly the water has turned to boiling.
I wanted to be the one to jump.
The last hurrah (first), and then the truth (second).
She smirked at me when I told her about it.
“You know that’s why you’re really upset, right?
You were going to do the same thing in the end.
You just didn’t get to do it your way.”
She’s right, of course —
(first) she always is —
I never got to find out
whether I was right
about the temperature of the water.
**Written as a follow-up to this piece.
I will not speak about him
in the past tense
unless I’m describing an action of his
that occurred in the past.
He suggested I read Pride and Prejudice out loud
the next time I read it. (I did.)
He told me to repeat myself in class
because I’d managed
to say something smart
(the first time I said it, anyway).
He asked me more questions
than I can remember
(and I’m still answering some of them).
He gave me a book
almost every time I saw him —
“Here,” he said, handing me Plato’s Republic —
“read something useful.”
Yet I have to admit this truth —
But I will not say he “was”
because he has not stopped being.
He is the man who changed our lives.
He is the one who taught us,
believed in us.
He is the teacher who saw our potential
and pushed us to rise to meet it.
He will be a part of who we are,
what we notice, how we react —
What is the whatness of a man?
Peter W. Schramm.
There will always be stories that I’ve never read.
Even as an avid reader,
the volumes available to me
far outnumber the hours I can feasibly dedicate
to absorbing them all.
But these ones I will know.
These ones that used to remind me
of guilt, shame, fear —
now, they remind me
of so many beautiful, lasting things.
Like the song lyrics
my dad would say in a voicemail
at 2AM — night shift —
no hello or goodbye.
Just the lyrics:
a modern take on Exodus.
Or like the first-place medal
we won for being able
to write clear instructions
and then to build the model:
Israelites building an ark and tabernacle.
Stories that, without realizing it,
I’ve been drawn to all my life
because they resonate somewhere deep:
in memories and favorite characters
and hard lessons and good people.
For a few minutes each day
for the next three hundred forty-two days,
I won’t just know of them —
I’ll finally know them.